This book by Howard Culbertson was originally published by the Nazarene Publishing House under ISBN number 083-411-4186. This NMI mission book has been somewhat revised and updated.
Our third furlough began in late summer of 1988. We arrived in Bethany, Okla., in time for the Northwest Oklahoma District Assembly. Following an evening service, Judy Duey came hurrying across the sanctuary of Bethany First Church to greet me.
"Do you remember that Faith Promise Convention you held in Mountain Grove?" she asked.
I did. It had been 10 years earlier, during our first home assignment away from Italy. I had known Carl and Judy Duey in college. So I stayed with them that weekend. They were starting their family. They were also building a house in that small southern Missouri community.
Giving to missions in a regular, systematic way through Faith Promise was new to Mountain Grove Nazarenes. It was new to Carl and Judy. The idea is to use a monthly or weekly approach to giving funds to carry out Christ's Great Commission.
Carl and Judy hesitated to commit themselves to such regular missions giving. They had young children and a house under construction. They felt financially strapped. The tithe was the most they felt they could spare.
I only spent a weekend in Mountain Grove. Monday, I left that little town, not knowing what Carl and Judy had decided about a Faith Promise commitment. it sounded like they had decided to forgo giving until a more rosy future arrived and they could make the kind of financial commitment they'd like to missions. I hoped that, as a result of our conversations, they would at least make a token commitment. My deep prayer, of course, was that they would reorder their financial priorities to make what would be for them a substantial Faith Promise. Ten years went by. Here, standing in front of me, was Judy Duey.
Did I remember that weekend in Mountain Grove? "Of course," I told her.
"Well," she said, "that first year, the Lord got our money. Then, the second year, He got our lives."
Carl and Judy spent two years in what is now Eswatini working at the hospital there. Then they spent two years in Malawi starting a vocational school. The Faith Promise approach to missions giving had literally revolutionized their lives.
Most Spirit-filled believers would like to give more to missions. Tragically, for many Christians, missions offerings are relegated to bothersome intrusions. At the mention of a special missions offering, they scramble to see how much can be spared from their checking account. Sadly, it's often less than they would like.
One solution has been Faith Promise, a system of weekly or monthly giving. In Faith Promise, missions giving -- like the tithe -- comes off the top of one's income rather than having to be salvaged from leftover money at the end of the month. People often find they give more to missions when they do it on a weekly or monthly basis than they do when they give only a few major offerings during the year.
Churches using Faith Promise plan a special Sunday or even weekend each year. In a special service, people commit in writing what they feel God wants them to give to world evangelism during the coming year. Faith Promise commitments are usually given on a weekly or monthly basis, depending on when the person gets paid. People are urged to step out on faith, to go beyond what might seem possible, to make a faith promise. Often the total of these promises is announced in that commitment service as part of a victory celebration.
In the Church of the Nazarene the primary goal of Faith Promise commitments is to help the local church meet its share of the World Evangelism Fund. Many churches who use Faith Promise have discovered that they've been able to do more than just meet their share of the World Evangelism Fund. To their joy and amazement, churches sometimes discover they can give to missions more than twice the amount of their World Evangelism Fund share.
One advantage of the Faith Promise system is that people's involvement in missions will become an integral part of their life-style, as it did with Carl and Judy Duey. Not everybody will wind up on the mission field as the Dueys did. Still, I pray that supporting global evangelism will be for you more than a bothersome intrusion that comes along occasionally and sends you scrambling to see what your checkbook balance is.
If you are on Faith Promise, one way of making missions more than an intrusion is to use your check-writing time to pray for world evangelization. As you make out that check each week or month, pray that God will use those resources in extraordinary ways to reach the unreached. Prayer, after all, is the primary thing we need. Money given without prayer commitment means that giving will eventually dry up. If, on the other hand, the prayer support is there, the financial support will also be there.
Faith Promise can help you rearrange your priorities in financial matters. Do you want Jesus in first place? Then your life -- finances included -- should reflect His priorities. Rearranging your financial affairs to free up more financial resources for the Kingdom makes a strong statement to your family, to others, and to God.
Rev. Marvin McDaniel, pastor of Greenville (Texas) Peniel Church, says he finds that Faith Promise helps people become tithers. New people get excited about giving to missions through Faith Promise. They see how God blesses faithful stewardship. By the second year they've begun tithing as well.
For some families, Faith Promise has meant putting off major purchases for themselves. Not long ago I was with an Indianapolis family who had planned to buy new drapes for their home. Those new drapes were to have cost about $1,500. Then that family got so excited about missions giving that they delayed buying draperies for a year. Five years later the old drapes still hung in that home. That family had fulfilled Elizabeth Vennum's dream for missions giving. They had given up a want to meet a need..
Far too many Christians live as though the Kingdom has signed a peace treaty with satanic forces. We lavish on ourselves everything that God puts into our hands. As a result, we've missed what He's trying to do through us. Christians need to adopt a warfare life-style. That means living modestly and simply, in keeping with the demands of soldiers actively engaged in spiritual warfare.
Some time ago someone sent me a newspaper clipping about a Baptist family who had sold their luxury house. They moved into a mobile home where their monthly payments for housing would be considerably less. The reason? To have more money to give for Kingdom purposes. North Americans are usually trying to buy the biggest house and most expensive car they can afford. They get tied in knots by mortgage payments, car payments, and every other kind of payment. As a result, they don't have much uncommitted income to channel into missions. To move to giving significant amounts to the Kingdom, they must slash their monthly payments in some drastic way as that Baptist family did.
Through Faith Promise some people wind up giving more than what they had originally promised. During our first furlough, I was with a pastor in Iowa. The year before, he had made an unusual Faith Promise. He had promised the Lord that extra money of any kind that came his way during the year would go into Faith Promise. It was a rather open-ended commitment that included windfalls of any kind. Among these extras would be the honoraria that people sometimes give pastors for weddings. Incredibly, in that one year, the Lord put $7,000 extra in his pocket. True to his pledge, he put it all into Faith Promise.
I'd encourage you to set a goal of the percentage of your income you will give to Kingdom purposes. This would include your tithe, building fund pledge, missions, and revival meeting offerings. Let's say you'd like to be giving one-fourth of your income to Kingdom purposes. As you look over your checkbook register for the past year, you see that you're now giving 12 percent. It might take some draconian measures to jump in one year to that 25 percent level. Instead, why not try moving up in graduated increases? Begin by adding 3 percent to your annual giving to Kingdom purposes. Do this each year until you reach your goal. In this way, incremental adjustments can be made smoothly in your family's living standards. Another way to move up to a higher percentage of giving is to let salary increases help you. When you get a raise, continue to live on what you've been getting all along. Put the extra into Faith Promise.
I often meet people who earlier in life felt a call to full-time Christian service. For one reason or another they did not go overseas. They feel guilty about settling for what they believe is God's "second best." Yet, I often discover they aren't giving much above their tithe to the Kingdom. What a shame. Money represents our time. So just by raising the amount of their financial giving, these people could be giving significant amounts of their time to missions. They really did miss the Lord's will! Not only years ago but also today.
Faith Promise does help most people give more money to missions. But being able to give with less pain-even if it's more-also has its drawbacks. Rev. Michael Hancock pointed that out during a Faith Promise Convention at Tulsa (Oklahoma) Regency Park. He commented on how much his family now gave through Faith Promise. Then somewhat wistfully he said he missed that sense of sacrifice he remembered as a youngster.
Back then, his family gave a week's
salary in the Thanksgiving* offering and again at Easter. He talked of
how they cleaned out the refrigerator around those special offering times. They couldn't buy any
groceries that week because they'd put all their weekly income into the missions offering. Some
meals were mighty lean, but there was a deep sense of satisfaction at having given in the spirit of
Christ. We need some creative thinking to find ways to keep that sense of sacrifice in our
|*Thanksgiving: Canadian and U.S. holiday dating from the time of the first European colonists. Commemorating the autumn harvest, the holiday is the second Monday in October in Canada while the U.S. celebration is on the fourth Thursday in November. Thanksgiving day is observed by church services and family reunions. The customary turkey dinner is a reminder of the wild turkeys served at the first thanksgiving feasts.|
In addition to a loss of a sense of sacrifice, Faith Promise can eliminate some mission education or global awareness opportunities in a local church. "Faith Promise makes us careless in educating people," said Carla Hurt at a Michigan District NMI Convention. Each of the special offerings of our balanced attack offers an opportunity to teach about Nazarene world outreach. Such education must continue even when regular Faith Promise giving provides the funding.
When they enter a Faith Promise program, some churches completely dispense with special missions offerings. That's a bad idea. First, when pledges fall short of a goal, it's often because only a small percentage of the potential givers have participated. The members of that church have accepted Christ. Many haven't yet accepted His Great Commission. If no special missions offerings are ever taken, these people who haven't made Faith Promises will coast through the year without ever being challenged again to give to missions.
Then, we must also be sure that we're allowing the Holy Spirit enough opportunities to speak to us about giving our financial resources to fulfilling the Great Commission. When Barbara Stroud was NMI president on the North Arkansas District, she reminded churches using Faith Promise not to drop special offerings during the year. She said: "People still need opportunity to be led by the Spirit in inspirational giving." Even Faith Promise needs that balanced approach of an underwritten budget and inspirational giving.
Rev. Dale Coble leads the Larned, Kansas, Nazarenes in Faith Promise giving. They still, however, take all the individual offerings through the year. He continues with special missions emphases and offerings at Thanksgiving and Easter, when a furloughed missionary comes to visit, as well as offerings like Alabaster, Radio, and Missionary Health Care. Promoting each of those offerings keeps missions awareness high in the congregation.
Still another problem with Faith Promise is that churches using it rarely overpay their World Evangelism Fund commitments. In the past, overpayments by some churches with large Easter or Thanksgiving (or Christmas in countries other than Canada and the U.S.) offerings made up for those churches that fell short.
Recently, I was with a pastor friend whose church had suffered some financial setbacks. A sagging economy had caused a population exodus. Fortunately, their aggressive outreach program had kept attendance from dropping. Still, these newcomers to the church had not yet reached the same level of sacrificial giving as had the departed old-timers. For the first time in his 20 years of pastoral ministry, my friend was going to district assembly with an unpaid World Evangelism Fund commitment. He was carrying a heavy load of guilt over having fallen short.
I tried to console him by reminding him that other Nazarene churches would be overpaying their share of the World Evangelism Fund. Thus, where he had fallen short would be covered by someone else. Unfortunately, with large numbers of churches on Faith Promise, fewer World Evangelism Fund overpayments are being made today than in previous years. Churches are raising more money; they're just channeling it into areas like Approved Specials and Work and Witness.
Faith Promise is one method churches use to contribute to
every area of our balanced fund-raising attack. Properly used, Faith Promise could add real punch
to the contribution your local congregation is making to fulfilling the Great Commission. My
hope is that it will enable increasing numbers of churches to overpay their share of the World
Evangelism Fund while also giving generously to other areas of our balanced attack. . . . [
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7. Giving more with less pain |
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|A gift of ten dollars can wind up being thirty dollars when Nazarene missions money gets multiplied when other organizations channel funds through us . . . [ read more ]|
Howard Culbertson, 5901 NW 81st, Oklahoma City, OK 73132
| Phone: 405-740-4149 - Fax: 405-491-6658
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. When you use this material, an acknowledgment of the source would be appreciated.